Red Sox

Bruins close out Cup party with White House visit

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Bruins close out Cup party with White House visit

WASHINGTON, D.C. Aside from Tim Thomas decision to use the afternoon as a political bully pulpit, the Bruins had a presidentially good time during a Monday afternoon visit to the White House as reigning Stanley Cup champs. The players, coaches, management, ownership and training staff aside from Thomas as the lone absentee from this years team and Michael Ryder due to commitments with the Dallas Stars took in a 45-minute private tour of the presidential home on Pennsylvania Ave. before standing on the stage as the guests of presidential honor in the East Wing.

There have been so many good memories from winning the Cup, but a chance to come to the White House is definitely up there, said Patrice Bergeron. I never thought Id be able to do that. Now Im here. Were all here and we all met the President together just like we all won the Cup together. It was special being able to do that today.

President Barack Obama spoke for a few minutes and covered all the bases with a speech tailored around the Black and Gold just one day before his State of the Union Address: he cracked a joke about the Bs drinking exploits after racking up the gigantic bill tab from Foxwoods last summer, dropped a Brad Marchand nickname into the proceedings with the under-utilized Little Ball of Hate and made reference to the thorough domination of the Boston sports scene.

Last year, this team endured a long season, and an even longer playoff. They are the first team in NHLhistory to win three full seven-game series," said Obama amid a throng of photographers, reporters and onlookers including Boston Mayor Tom Menino and Massachusetts Senator John Kerry in the East Wing audience. "They had some pretty long playoff beards to show for it. I appreciate them looking a little more clean-cut as they come here today.

"Brad Marchand went into the season on the fourth line, but the Little Ball of Hate shrugged off the rookie jitters -- what's up with that nickname, man?" Obama asked before turning to a red-faced Marchand being nudged on by Zdeno Chara, "and scored five goals in the last five games of the final series.

A couple of other greatest hits from the Obama speech that included references to Marchand, Nathan Horton, Thomas, Mark Recchi and Zdeno Chara:

Nathan Horton went down hard in Game 3 of the Finals but that didnt stop him from doing everything he could to help them win. He even brought some Boston water all the way to Vancouver and poured it on the ice before the decisive Game 7 . . . so Beantown delivered.

There is no better image of the Bruins dominance than the tallest player in NHL history. Ill let you guess which one that is. Zdeno Chara hoisted the Cup high above the ice in Vancouver and Im sure thats the highest that the Stanley Cup has ever been. This Stanley Cup was won as much by defense as it was by offense and Tim Thomas posted two shutouts in the Stanley Cup Finals. He set an all-time record for saves in the postseason and he also had the honor of being only the second American to ever be recognized as the Stanley Cup playoffs MVP.

They overcame injuries and they overcame long odds. The wise old man of the team Mark Recchi summed up the season by saying, We played together, we drank together." Obama couldnt resist asking Well, how much did you drink? before going back to the Rex quote "we lost together and we never wavered.

Obama also gave some love for the Boston Bruins Foundation that raised over 7 million in its charitable endeavors over the years since its inception, and got some well-rounded applause.

It was nearly a perfect turn for the Bruins on an off-day in the nations capital between a Sunday shootout win over the Flyers and a Tuesday night tilt against the Washington Capitals finishing out the pre-All-Star break portion of the schedule. Marchand was genuinely flattered at the attention he received from the Commander in Chief, and many of the Bruins from the Slovakian captain to the Quebecois heart and soul leader of the team appreciated how unique the White House experience turned out to be.

That doesnt happen everyday . . . to have the President single you out. Its a cool thing to have happened, said Marchand. I definitely didnt expect it, but it was very enjoyable and something Ill always remember. They all saw Obama looking around for me and Zee was pretty quick to give me a shove toward him.

It was a little embarrassing at the time, but it was cool. The boys have been all over me because I got a little red-faced especially being there in the front row. Its all in good fun.

Aside from Marchand again providing some comic relief to the formal setting, the January stop at the White House with the Cup in tow also finally, officially closes the book on last years accomplishments. Several times the Bruins have said this is the last time theyll be in the same room with the Cup unless they win it again.

But this is truly the case after visiting with Obama.

Really.

Theyre sure of it.

This actually is the conclusion of our Stanley Cup celebration. While this is great, its also the end, said Chiarelli. We all see the history in this place. I really liked the President. He seems very down to earth. He talked to a bunch of us in the receiving line and he seems like a guy that genuinely loves sports. He just seems like a good guy.

With another once-in-a-lifetime experience now behind them after spending the day relaxing with Obama in the presidents house, the Bruins will move on to the business of being humble hockey players again on Tuesday.

Werner: Red Sox feel pressure to keep up with Yankees, Astros

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Werner: Red Sox feel pressure to keep up with Yankees, Astros

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski may not be looking closely at the Yankees' and Astros' rosters, but chairman Tom Werner was on Friday.

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“Sure there’s pressure,” Werner said at Winter Weekend when asked about the Yankees’ pick-up of Giancarlo Stanton and the Astros’ addition of Gerrit Cole.  “Houston was formidable last year. I thought we played them competitively in Fenway Park. They’ve obviously improved. But if we have the kind of performances I expect from some of our players this year — obviously we’re looking for some more improvement from certain players. Hopefully, a healthy David Price will be very important to that. 

"I think we have an excellent team, but anything can happen in a short series. The Yankees have improved, there’s no question about it. They have a deep bullpen and a great offense. But I like our chances.”

At the Boston baseball writers awards dinner on Thursday, Sox president Sam Kennedy cracked a joke about Dombrowski presenting Yankees general manager Brian Cashman with an Apple Watch as a gift.

“I’m sure that when Judge and Stanton come to Fenway Park this year, it’ll be electric,” Werner said.

It’s not exactly an offseason punch-for-punch dynamic with the Sox and Yankees, though, as it was circa 2003-04.

“Not specifically,” Werner said of countering Stanton. “It’s important for us to be competitive with them, but we’re not trying to play chess with them.”

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Red Sox notes: Yawkey Way cannot be named for living person

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Red Sox notes: Yawkey Way cannot be named for living person

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — Yawkey Way will not become David Ortiz Way, for those who may have been holding out hope for the street to be renamed after him, or any other recent star.

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“We’ve talked about several different names,” Red Sox president Sam Kennedy said on Friday evening at Winter Weekend at Foxwoods. “There’s been talk about the possibility of returning to what the original name was, which was Jersey Street. It’s been made clear in our research and due diligence that you can’t currently petition for a living person when there’s other property owners on the street. There’s a provision that allows you to petition for a name of a living person if there aren’t other property abbuters on the street. So living person is out of the question. So we’ve had a few different ideas, but we’re not quite there yet.”

Kennedy said the Sox are in conversations with the city and neighboring property owners on Yawkey Way about renaming the street. 

“We have to have a sponsor of our petition, so we’re engaged in those discussions right now and would anticipate a petition being filed,” Kennedy said. “The mayor has been terrific and his staff understand our desire to formally petition, but we’ve got to get a resolution on a few logistical items — like a name, for one — that we’re going to formally petition for.”

A next step could come within a couple weeks, although Kennedy wasn’t firm about that timeline.

“But I’ve said that before, and it’s just a lot of behind the scenes steps that you have to take getting formal approvals from property owners and elected officials,” Kennedy said. “The club can petition for the name and then ultimately as John Henry said back in August, [it’s] a public process. … it’s our decision to request a name.”

• More netting is coming to Fenway to protect fans from batted balls and such.

“Before 2016, we expanded to the inside wall of the dugouts and we’re going to beyond that in 2018,” Kennedy said. “All the way down to about Field Box 79 down the left field line, and then all the way down to almost canvas alley in the Field Box 9 area. So we’re still finalizing the exact dimensions, but it will be a dramatic expansion of our netting … beyond the dugout down the third base line and the first base line.”

  • Sox chairman Tom Werner supports pace of play initiatives, and said he’s heard from Red Sox players who support it as well — even though the players union decided to shoot down a proposal from the league, per The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal. MLB can unilaterally make changes but ideally, the union and league would come to an agreement together.
     

“As you know the commissioner is having ongoing talks with Tony Clark and the union,” Werner said. “I think it’s pretty clear that there’s too much dead time in the game. And as I’ve said, it’s really not about pace of play but like trying to have less dead time. Last year the average game, the time was higher than it’s ever been in history. And I think we have talked about some common sense ideas. We’re not the only league as you know who is looking at dead time. 

“But just for an example, I think that to have the managers or the catchers go up, or the second baseman just be able to talk to the pitcher whenever they want, we should address that. So we’ve addressed a pitch clock in the minor leagues. I think it’s working. But I’m hopeful certainly that the union and owners will come together on this. Because I think it’s something that the fans are expecting.”

  • Sox ticket sales are not doing quite as well as they were a year ago, Kennedy said. 
     

"We’re very healthy and humbled by the fan support,” Kennedy said. “We sold [out Winter Weekend] faster than ever before, about three weeks. There will be between 6,000 and 7,000 people here, which is really a testament to Red Sox fans. You’ve got an unbelievable sports market as we all know with the Patriots and what they’re doing, the Bruins and Celtics at the top of their games. 

“We’ve got people buying tickets [for games] at a pace consistent with 2015 and 2016. We are slightly down from last year, I think there was a big bump from Chris Sale, understandably, so about 6 percent down from last year, which is understandable given it’s been a very slow moving offseason in terms of baseball news. But we continue to be grateful and humbled by the support we get.”

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